Case Study - Severe Wernicke's Aphasia

Age: 66

Time Since Stroke: 10 months

William was a preacher and college professor (Ph.D.) who had been very active in his church and his community. He had written and co-written many books during his life. He was a friendly and caring man whose aphasia devastated him as he could no longer participate in the things he loved to do—visit with others, say his grandchildrens' names, teach, deliver sermons, etc.


  • 0% writing. He could slowly copy words but imitated the word's font.
  • Fluent speech was littered with perseverations (getting stuck on using a certain word), paraphasias (saying things that were very close in sound to his target word) and neologisms (made-up words)
  • He could not read at all, not even recognizing his own name
  • Skilled listeners could gauge what he was saying around 30% of the time

Assessment: No reading or writing. His greatest strength was actually his comprehension, which was around 60%. He wasn't aware that listeners couldn't fully understand his speech, nor could he determine if what was said was a real word or not. Due to his poor self-awareness, he didn't use any strategies when he didn't understand or when he wasn't understood. He didn't even notice when the listener would act confused.

Treatment: His family chose a 4-week program. His therapy centered around everyday activities as well as Bible stories, his family's names, and re-learning writing.


Standardized aphasia testing does not accurately show improvements made in any type of aphasia, but it is especially difficult with a severe Wernicke's aphasia. William's comprehension during conversation and structured tasks increased to 88%, although he did need repetition at times. His testing showed an increase of 35% in comprehension. He learned to say and read his grandchildren's names, and his speech fluency and content increased by 10% and 30% respectively. He also learned strategies to help the listener better understand him. His overall Aphasia Quotient increased by 10.7 points.